The Real End of the Waterfront Streetcar?
In some respects the central waterfront of Seattle seems like an excellent place for a streetcar. Our ability to build one there, though, may be lost if the Deep-bore Tunnel is defeated by the Surface+Transit plan.
From the cruise ship terminal at the north end, past Amgen (which currently buses employees downtown), and then past Myrtle Edwards and the SAM Sculpture Park, condominium housing and hotels, the Aquarium, shops and the ferry terminal- and none of these places with anything like adequate parking- this route is a natural for a streetcar. It’s even level.
But the Surface+Transit option for Highway 99 at the waterfront puts a six-lane highway through- six lanes of frenzied traffic the streetcar can’t cross.
Do the math yourself, but start by remembering what always happens to the drawings you saw when the project was proposed, compared with what you actually end up driving on. Next, remember that when they tell you “four lanes” it will end up being six.
A streetcar can’t go under a waterfront highway, and any signaling that is allowed there will be, first and foremost, for other purposes.
Building a highway on the waterfront may close the option of building a streetcar for another 40 years. It’s not what Seattle should do with the waterfront.